Saenuri may hold onto majority, says analysis

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Saenuri may hold onto majority, says analysis

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The ruling Saenuri Party could win a parliamentary majority in the upcoming April 13 general elections, according to an analysis of political trends, and the main opposition Minjoo Party will probably not maintain its current 107 seats.

The JoongAng Ilbo analyzed Sunday the 253 races for geographical constituencies and found that the Saenuri was leading in 112 compared to 35 for Minjoo, 11 for the People’s Party and one for the Justice Party.

There were eight constituencies in which independent candidates were in the lead.

The remaining 86 constituencies, or 34 percent, were too close to call, according to the analysis. Those included 58 seats in Seoul and surrounding metropolitan areas.

The newspaper conducted the analysis based on surveys of 139 constituencies overseen by the National Fair Election Survey Deliberation Commission.

For the remaining 114 constituencies it used data from the Saenuri, Minjoo and People’s parties’ election situation rooms.

The Saenuri was in the lead in 40 out of 122 metropolitan constituencies, 49 in the Yeongnam region of South and North Gyeongsang and 22 seats in the Chungcheong, Gangwon and Jeju regions. These statistics surpassed any possible margin of error.

On top of the places it is leading in at the moment, if the Saenuri wins a third of the remaining 85 seats, or 28, it will hold 139 elected local constituency seats.

If it wins a minimum of 18 proportional representative seats, as an April 1 Gallup Korea poll suggests it will, it can easily clear a majority in the National Assembly with a total of at least 157 seats.

The National Assembly has 300 seats, 253 of which will be filled by elected lawmakers; proportional representatives occupy the rest.

In contrast, the Minjoo is leading in 22 metropolitan areas and five of 28 seats in the Honam region comprised of Gwangju and the two Jeolla provinces. It is leading in three constituencies in the Yeongnam region and five in the Chungcheong, Gangwon and Jeju areas.

To maintain its current 107 assembly seats, it will have to win 57 contested areas and 15 proportional representative seats in addition to the races it has a lead in already.

Jung Jang-sun, the Minjoo’s campaign planning strategist, said in a press conference Sunday, “In the beginning, we targeted 130 seats but based on analysis of recent political trends, that result will be very difficult [to achieve]. There is a sense of crisis that the ruling party will win 180 to 200 seats.”

The minor opposition People’s Party did not have a lead in any constituencies in Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan areas. Its co-chairman Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, who is running in Nowon C District of Seoul, and Rep. Moon Byeong-ho, who is running for reelection in Bupyeong A District in Incheon, are facing off against contenders from both the Saenuri and Minjo parties.

The People’s Party led in 11 seats in the Honam region.

Ahn said at a press conference in Gwangju, “Our goal is to get all the Honam seats, and even if we take a conservative estimate, we expect over 20 seats.”

Of eight independent candidates leading in their races, according to the analysis, one is Rep. Yoo Seong-min, a former Saenuri lawmaker who left the party after it refused to give him a ticket to run. He is running in Daegu Dong B District seat.

In contrast, only three independents won seats in the previous National Assembly elections in 2012.

In Seoul and its surrounding metropolitan areas, some 67 percent of the races are too close to call. Of 49 seats in Seoul, 27 are up in the air according to surveys.

For example, in Nowon C District, Ahn Cheol-Soo is barely in the lead with 35.3 percent according a recent JoongAng Ilbo survey, compared to 32 percent for the Saenuri’s Lee Jun-seok. The opposition vote is split with the Minjoo’s’ Hwang Chang-hwa, who has 11.4 percent support.

When Ahn ran as an independent in Nowon C in an April 2013 by-election, he won 60.5 percent of the votes.

Another variable is a drop in support for the Saenuri Party by 8 percentage points to 32 percent, according to a Gallup Korea poll on Friday.

Should the opposition parties join forces, the ruling party could actually lose seats in Seoul. It currently has 15 seats but this could drop to 13 seats.

The Saenuri Party, however, is not expecting that to happen since ballot papers began printing Monday. Coming to an electoral alliance now would require registered opposition candidate to quit races.

SPECIAL REPORTING TEAM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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